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Simon Guggenheim

(1867 – 1941)

John Simon Guggenheim  was the son of Meyer Guggenheim and Barbara Guggenheim, and was the younger brother of Daniel Guggenheim and Solomon R. Guggenheim. He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on December 30, 1867.

Guggenheim attended Central High School and the Peirce School of Business Administration before settling in Pueblo, Colorado, where he worked as the chief ore buyer for his father’s mining and smelting operation, M. Guggenheim’s Sons.

Guggenheim moved to Denver in 1892 and married Olga Hirsch on November 24, 1898. To celebrate their marriage, the Guggenheims provided a Thanksgiving dinner to 5,000 poor Manhattan children.

He was the Republican candidate for Governor of Colorado early in the 1898 campaign but withdrew after riots broke out at the State Convention in Colorado Springs, during which one man was killed and several injured.

Simon and Olga Guggenheim celebrated the birth of their first child, John Simon Guggenheim, in 1905. To commemorate the event, Simon Guggenheim made an $80,000 donation (equivalent to $2,300,000 in 2019) to the Colorado School of Mines to build a namesake building, Simon Guggenheim Hall. At the time, it was the largest private grant ever made to a state institution. In 1909, Guggenheim donated a Law Building at the University of Colorado.

In 1907, Guggenheim was elected as a Republican to the United States Senate, representing Colorado from 1907 to 1913. During his term in the Senate, he chaired the Committee to Establish a University of the United States, and the Committee on the Philippines. While in Congress, one of his older brothers, Benjamin Guggenheim, died in the RMS Titanic catastrophe. After his term expired, he did not run for reelection and returned to New York.

He joined the board of American Smelting and Refining Company, later becoming the board chairman. From 1919 to 1941, he was president of that company.

In 1922, Guggenheim’s son John died of mastoiditis just before leaving for college. In his memory, Guggenheim and his wife established the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation in 1925. According to its website, “The Foundation offers Fellowships to further the development of scholars and artists by assisting them to engage in research in any field of knowledge and creation in any of the arts, under the freest possible conditions and irrespective of race, color, or creed…. Approximately 175 Fellowships are awarded each year.”

In 1939, the Guggenheims’ second son, George, committed suicide in a Manhattan hotel at the age of 32.

Guggenheim died on November 2, 1941.

“Simon Guggenheim,” Wikipedia;
“GUGGENHEIM, Simon,” Biographical Directory of the United States Congress;
John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

Photo: Public Domain Wikimedia.